What is a jazz musician’s most important tool?
Is it their ear? Their technique? The concepts at their disposal?
All of these are extremely important, but without this one specific tool, they’re all useless…
The jazz musician’s most important tool is their memory.
Harold Mabern used to drive this point home to us all the time.
Think about it.
You can have the best ear in the world, name any sound you hear, transcribe a progression with ease…
But if you can’t retain the information you’re learning in your mind and recall it for instantaneous use later, it’s not going to help you be a better improviser.
You can’t go on stage with a book of the things you know, the lines, the tunes, the concepts…everything has to be in your mind.
And really, that’s the only stuff you actually know.
Joe Henderson took this to the extreme in his teaching style.
In general, Joe didn’t allow the student to record the lesson or write down anything on staff paper. Everything had to be memorized right away.
So what exactly does a having a great memory in terms of playing jazz music mean?
And, how can we best develop this talent?
How to use your memory in jazz
In terms of jazz improvisation, memory means two things
- memorizing things with your ear
- memorizing things with your mind
Yes, technically memorizing something with your ear still is in your mind, but nevertheless, we’ll refer to this as the “ear part”…
There’s … Read More